The US needs a National Broadband Strategy – so said GAO study

The study isn’t new but it was discussed Before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives. I’ve tried to pull out the highest-level points. The need for better coordination and collaboration has never been higher as so much gets poured into rural broadband. The amount is not enough to get everyone covered, but certainly there are ways to maximize investment…

How much federal money has been invested and how much to come?

Our prior work found that federal investments from 2009 through 2017 totaled nearly $50 billion for broadband infrastructure in unserved or underserved areas. Starting in 2020, COVID-19 relief laws, along with regular appropriations, have provided an infusion of funding for broadband, including for many new broadband programs. Most recently, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act appropriated nearly $65 billion for new and existing broadband programs. Further, the President has set a goal of universal American access to broadband by 2030.

How many programs are there?

We identified at least 133 funding programs—administered across 15 agencies—that can be used to support broadband access, including support for planning and deploying infrastructure, making service affordable, providing devices, and building digital skills. Some of these programs support broadband as their main purpose or one possible purpose, and others can be used for multiple purposes related to broadband. Eligible recipients for these programs range widely and include: internet providers; other private sector entities; nonprofits; tribal, state, and local governments; education agencies; and healthcare providers. Through these programs, federal agencies invested at least $44 billion in broadband-support activities from fiscal years 2015–2020, according to our analysis of agencies’ data.6 See our report for a list of broadband funding award information by agency and program.

Having numerous broadband programs can be helpful to address a multifaceted issue like broadband access, but this fragmentation can also mean that programs overlap and lead to the risk of duplicative support.

What are the challenges in accessing funds?

  • Identifying relevant programs
  • Administrative complexity
  • Complementary use of programs
  • Unintended results of program restrictions

Is there a plan?

…there is no current overarching strategy that synchronizes these efforts and establishes agency accountability. FCC developed the National Broadband Plan in 2010, and while FCC officials said they still consider the plan relevant as a framework for modernizing policies, they acknowledge it is now outdated.14 Furthermore, officials from several agencies told us that no national broadband strategy of this scope is currently in effect.

What are the recommendations?

In our May 2022 report, we recommended that NTIA consult with relevant agencies, as well as the Office of Management and Budget and other White House offices, and present to Congress a report that identifies the key statutory provisions that limit the beneficial alignment of broadband programs and offers legislative proposals to address the limitations, as appropriate. At the time we issued the report, the Department of Commerce agreed with our recommendation. Since then, NTIA told us it plans to solicit input about statutory limitations and legislative proposals from relevant agencies during interagency broadband meetings. NTIA also told us that it plans to provide a report to Congress by May 31, 2026 that will, among other things, identify barriers and statutory limitations that limit the beneficial alignment of broadband programs and offer potential legislative changes, as appropriate.19

We also recommended that the Executive Office of the President develop and implement a national broadband strategy and that it include a national strategy for closing the gap in broadband access on tribal lands.20 Both strategies should include clear roles, goals, objectives, and performance measures to support better management of fragmented, overlapping federal broadband programs and synchronize coordination efforts. At the time of our report, the Executive Office of the President was considering if a national strategy was needed. As of this testimony, it has not developed a national strategy for broadband. However, the National Economic Council said it is prioritizing broadband coordination, including by chairing a leadership committee attended by key agency heads and convening a broadband working group that coordinates interagency efforts.

There appears to be a timing difference in FCC map challenges depending on whether they are bulk or individual

Thank you Telecompetitor for asking the FCC about broadband mapping challenges. A quick centering of the story … the FCC created new maps saying that federal funding will be doled out (partly) based on the maps. People and communities are worried because the maps are not always correct. People can challenge the maps in two ways. Individuals can submit a challenge for their location OR a community can submit a bulk challenge. The bulk challenge requires more technical skills; turns out unserved communities don’t always have those skills on the payroll. Individual challenges are more straightforward but that means convincing a lot of people to make a claim; turns out, residents of unserved areas may lack broadband, device and skills to submit a challenge. Never mind time required for either type of challenge.

Now the update from Telecompetitor

Over the past few months, the FCC and NTIA have recommended filing dates for bulk challenges to the National Broadband Map, which is updated twice yearly. But stakeholders hadn’t seen similar guidance from either agency about individual challenges.

Telecompetitor asked the FCC about this and, based on what a spokesperson told us, individual challenges could be addressed more quickly than bulk challenges – at least when it comes to availability challenges. Details about that later in this post. First, some definitions.

There are some suggested timelines…

Although any type of challenge can be filed at any time, the NTIA and FCC have advised stakeholders of dates by which bulk challenges should be filed in order for them to be adjudicated in time to impact the next version of the map, which the FCC updates twice yearly.

It sounds like the individual challenges can take up to 120 days to be resolved or processed as unserved but that may be quicker than bulk challenges…

Regarding the timing of availability challenges from individuals, the spokesperson noted that after a preliminary review by commission staff, fixed availability challenges are sent to providers, usually within only a few days. Providers then have 60 days to either concede the challenge (in which case the provider’s availability at challenged locations will be removed from the map) or to provide evidence to dispute the challenge.

“If the provider disputes the challenge, it then has 60 days to work with the challenger to resolve the dispute,” the spokesperson said. “We expect that most challenges will be resolved during these initial phases, but if not, the FCC will review the evidence to make a determination of whether the map will continue to show that the provider has availability at the challenged location.”

The results of availability challenges are reflected on “a rolling basis as they are resolved,” the spokesperson said.

Although the spokesperson did not answer our question asking the filing date associated with the most recent availability challenges that had been adjudicated, the timeline outlined above suggests that an individual would have had to make the challenge at least 60 days and possibly more than 120 days in advance of the next broadband map update expected in May or June in order for the resolution of the challenge to be reflected on that version of the map.

Potentially, that’s less time than NTIA expected the FCC to take for bulk challenges. Late last year, NTIA advised stakeholders to file bulk challenges by January 13 in order to have them adjudicated in time to be reflected on the version of the map that is expected in May or June.


Report estimates cost for nationwide ubiquitous broadband at $230 billion – that’s not what’s being invested

Telecompetitor reports

The cost to the federal government to bring fiber broadband to every U.S. household that NTIA considers “unserved” or “underserved” would be approximately $230 billion, according to a study from fixed wireless equipment provider Tarana Wireless, which gave Telecompetitor an exclusive first look at the study. That’s more than five times the funding that the government has earmarked for broadband deployments in the BEAD and RDOF programs, the study notes.

The $230 billion estimate is the amount of funding needing after factoring in the 25% matching funds that network operators are required to contribute to project costs, Tarana said.

Part of a librarian’s bibliographic instruction 101 is looking at who wrote it and why. Here the author is a fixed wireless equipment provider. They are trying to make the case that it’s too expensive to pull fiber to everyone but that wireless is a viable solution…

Guidelines for the BEAD program established by the NTIA require funding recipients to deploy fiber unless the cost per location exceeds the extremely high cost per location threshold or for “other valid reasons.”

Tarana and other fixed wireless stakeholders are hoping that states will seek waivers of the requirement to deploy fiber broadband so that they can direct funding to less costly fixed wireless builds, thereby reaching more people.

In the absence of those waivers, “we will run out of money and will not be [addressing] the Digital Divide today because of how long it takes to lay all that fiber,” said Carl Guardino, vice president of government affairs for Tarana, in an interview with Telecompetitor.

They aren’t wrong. Fiber is more expensive, but it is more reliable. Wireless is impacted by capacity, weather and line of sight issues. So… Do we reach the most people we can? Or do we reach the areas with the hardest business case to make for investment? Or judge by terrain? And if there is a demarcation of where to deploy fiber and wireless – are we creating future broadband ghettos? Yes, a person without broadband now will happily take a wireless connection – but will new people or businesses move into those areas?

The future is both wired and wireless. Communities, residents and businesses that have both are better poised for success. Maybe we ask for more money.

NPR introduces the Rural Partners Network

NPR recent ran a story that describes what many readers are experiencing – the excitement of so much money coming becoming available for broadband and other infrastructure projects but nervousness of not knowing how your community is going to apply. So many of the communities that are a good match for funding lack the resources to even look into it.

Rural Partners Network has been set up to help folks. They help with information and are available for help in some communities. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to be available in Minnesota – but I see Wisconsin is on their list.

Learn more from the NPR story – quick to read or listen to it.

Digital equity experts talk about how to sustain the push to improve

Government Technology posts about what’s happening a Net Inclusion, the annual conference for digital equity folks, hosted by NDIA (National Digital Inclusion Alliance) – they are the folks who have successfully pushed for better understanding of broadband adoption as well as access for years. This article focused on how we can capitalize on the funding that’s coming through federal channels (BEAD and IIJA) even after those funds are discontinued…

Many communities have digital inclusion ecosystems and have for a good while. The work that comes next for digital inclusion is strengthening them. The NDIA also offers guidance on what makes a digital inclusion ecosystem strong.
This includes having programs and policies that address all of the aspects for the digital divide, including affordable and subsidized broadband as well as device ownership. There should also be multilingual digital literacy and skills training available, tech support and digital navigators to guide residents in all of the above. Finally, there needs to be collaboration on digital inclusion work between policymakers, advocates, social service groups, community leaders and, really, anyone else in a given community that holds public sway.
Another absolutely key thing for continuing digital inclusion work long term is data. And not data that shows people why the Internet is important — that question has been answered — but rather data about the specifics of digital equity programs in a community. To keep this work strong and thriving past its moment, Siefer said practitioners need data around how digital equity programs work, why they work, and who is benefiting from them.
That last question is perhaps the most crucial, as its answer is likely to lead to continued interest and funding. Who benefits from digital inclusion work? The answer is most — if not all — of the nation’s biggest industries: health care, education, telecommunications and even retail.

OPPPORTUNITY: MN Dep of Commerce looking to work with or connect tribal communities

Here is a lot of information (via email) from Minnesota Department of Commerce | Energy Division…

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is seeking to work with and facilitate connections with local and Tribal governments, utilities, businesses, communities and other entities interested in energy-related partnerships. The opportunities outlined below are offered through federal funding opportunities, including those funded by the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Recent and Expected Federal Funding Activity

The federal government issues a variety of announcements related to federal funding opportunities:  Requests for Information (RFI); Notices of Intent (NOI); and Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA). More information can be found on the Commerce Federal Funding Opportunities web page or by clicking the links below. In order to facilitate a quick review of this newsletter, the subject matter of included items is recapped here; full details can be found in the body of the newsletter.

  • Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA), Administrative and Legal Requirements Document (ALRD), and Requests for Applications (RFA)
    • DOE Announces $47 Million To Develop Affordable Clean Hydrogen Technologies
    • Onsight Energy Technical Assistance Partnerships
    • DOE Announces $25.5 Million to Improve Biofuels and Bioproducts
    • $74 Million to Advance Enhanced Geothermal Systems
  •  Notices of Intent (NOI)
    • Clean Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands
    • IRA 60114 – Climate Pollution Production Grants
    • IIJA Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilot Projects and Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects
    • Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas Program
  • Requests For Information (RFI)
    • Draft Application Guidance for $553.6 Million Program to Ensure the Availability of Clean, Reliable Hydroelectric Generation Capacity
  •  Prizes
    • The Equitable and Affordable Solutions to Electrification (EAS-E) Home Electrification Prize
    • Community Power Accelerator Prize
    • Energy Class Prize
    • Energizing Rural Communities Prize
  • Webinars
    • Designed to Deliver: Lessons Learned from Architects, Engineers, and Contractors in Zero-Carbon Buildings
    • Industry-Perspective Webinar on IRA Tax Implications and Market Opportunities
    • Ecosystem Services of Solar-Pollinator Habitat Webinar
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Climate Planning
    • Innovative AgriSolar Design
  • Conferences
    • DOE’s 2023 Small Business Forum & Expo
    • 2023 National Energy Codes Conference
  • Guides
    • Farmers Guide to Going Solar
    • National Requirements for Zero Energy Ready Single-Family Homes
    • New Energy Justice Mapping Tool for Schools
  • Clean Energy Tax Credit Information
    • Heat Pumps Keep Homes Warm and Bills Low this Winter
    • Geothermal Heat Pumps Tax Credit|Energy Star
    • Solar Investment Tax Credit: What Changed?
    • Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics
    • Zero Energy Ready Homes Are Coming to a Neighborhood Near You
    • Federal Solar Tax Credits for Businesses
    • Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency Residential Tax Credits
    • Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 – What it Means for You

— Non-IIJA Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)

  • DOE Announces $47 Million To Develop Affordable Clean Hydrogen Technologies
    • Concept papers due: February 24, 2023
    • Full applications due: April 28, 2023.
    • DE-FOA-0002920

This funding opportunity, which is administered by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office, focuses on RD&D of key hydrogen delivery and storage technologies as well as affordable and durable fuel cell technologies. Fuel cell RD&D projects will focus particularly on applications for heavy-duty trucks, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and eliminate tailpipe emissions that are harmful to local air quality.

  •  Onsight Energy Technical Assistance Partnerships
    • Information Webinar: 2/22/2023 – 12:00 PM CT Register here
    • Letter of Intent (optional) Deadline: 2/28/2023 – 4:00 PM CT
    • Full Application Deadline: 4/21/2023 – 4:00 PM CT
    • DE-FOA-0002945

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO) announced a $23 million funding opportunity that will establish a regional network of Technical Assistance Partnerships (TAPs) to help industrial facilities and other large energy users increase the adoption of onsite energy technologies. The Onsite Energy TAPs will accelerate the integration and deployment of clean energy technologies to drive U.S. industrial decarbonization, productivity, and competitiveness. This funding opportunity includes the following topic areas:Topic 1 – Regional Onsite TAPs: Funding for up to 10 entities to serve as regional Onsite Energy TAPs. Each TAP will represent a multi-state region and serve as the primary technical, market, and policy point of contact for end-users and other state and local stakeholders.Topic 2 – Onsite Energy Technical Analysis and Support Center: Funding for one national entity to serve as the Onsite Energy Technical Analysis and Support Center (TASC). The TASC will centrally coordinate technical analysis and programmatic activities of the Onsite Energy TAPs.

–IIJA Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)

  • DOE Announces $25.5 Million to Improve Biofuels and Bioproducts

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $25.5 million in funding to enable the sustainable use of domestic biomass and waste resources, such as agricultural residues and algae, to produce low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts.The “Reducing Agricultural Carbon Intensity and Protecting Algal Crops” funding opportunity will improve the production of environmentally sustainable feedstocks for bioenergy through two topic areas:

  1. Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices for Low-Carbon Intensity Feedstocks, and
  2. Algae Crop Protection

Recognizing that decarbonizing transportation and agriculture are inherently linked when it comes to the thoughtful production and deployment of biofuels, this funding opportunity focuses on improving climate-smart agricultural practices that reduce the carbon intensity of biomass feedstocks used for biofuel production, and cultivating and protecting algae crops, an abundant and renewable biofuel source.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a funding opportunity of up to $74 million for up to seven pilot projects that will test the efficacy and scalability of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).  Through this investment, DOE hopes the research and development from the findings would demonstrate the growth and ultimate potential for geothermal energy to provide reliable, around-the-clock electricity to tens of millions of homes across the country. Applications for the BIL-funded EGS Pilot Demonstrations will be accepted over multiple rounds.

— IIJA Notice of Intent (NOI)

  • $2.5 Billion for Two Carbon Capture Programs
    • NOI
    • DOE plans to release both funding announcements in late February 2023

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), in collaboration with the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), intends to provide up to $2.52 billion to fund two carbon capture programs needed to reduce carbon emissions from the electricity generation and industrial sectors. The Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilots program will include $820 million for up to 10 projects focused on scaling transformational carbon capture technologies. The Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects program will include up to $1.7 billion for approximately six projects to demonstrate commercial-scale carbon capture technologies, pipeline transportation, and geologic storage infrastructure. The pilot program seeks to catalyze earlier stage technologies with great potential, while the demonstrations program will focus on technologies that will further commercialization.

— Non-IIJA Notice of Intent (NOI)

  • Clean Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands – 2023

The DOE Office of Indian Energy plans to solicit applications from Indian Tribes, which include Alaska Native Regional Corporations and Village Corporations (hereafter referred collectively as “Indian Tribes”), Intertribal Organizations, and Tribal Energy Development Organizations to:

  1. Install clean energy generating system(s) and/or energy efficiency measure(s) for tribal building(s); or,
  2. Deploy community-scale clean energy generating system(s) or energy storage on tribal lands; or,
  3. Install integrated energy system(s) for autonomous operation (independent of the traditional centralized electric power grid) to power a single or multiple essential tribal buildings during emergency situations or for tribal community resilience; or,
  4. Power unelectrified tribal buildings.
  • IRA – 60114 – Climate Pollution Production Grants
    • IRA 60114 NOI
    • Planning Grants announcement anticipated for March 2023

The Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program will provide grants to states, territories, tribes, air pollution control agencies, and local governments to develop and implement plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollution.  Section 60114 of the Inflation Reduction Act provides an investment of $5 billion to support efforts by states, territories, municipalities, tribes, and groups thereof to develop and implement strong, local greenhouse gas reduction strategies. This two-staged grant program provides funding of $250 million for planning grants, and $4.6 billion for implementation grants.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) intends to issue a funding opportunity in March 2023 for up to $300 million to improve the cost, reliability, environmental impact, and climate resilience of energy systems in rural or remote areas across the country with 10,000 or fewer inhabitants. To provide equal opportunity to qualified applicants from rural and remote areas across the United States, this FOA is organized into nine geographic regions to reflect regional diversity in energy consumption and access, varying weather patterns, and climate impacts.The anticipated funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) program aims to fund projects with the following three goals:

  1. Deliver measurable benefits to energy customers in rural or remote areas by funding energy projects that lower energy cost, improve energy resilience, and/or reduce environmental harm.
  2. Demonstrate new rural or remote energy system models using climate-resilient technologies, new business structures and workforce models, new financing mechanisms, and/or new community engagement best practices.
  3. Build clean energy knowledge, capacity, and self-reliance in rural America in order to enhance ease of replicability in similarly situated communities.

–IIJA Request for Information (RFI)

  • 40333 – Draft Application Guidance for $553.6 Million Program to Ensure the Availability of Clean, Reliable Hydroelectric Generation Capacity
    • Draft Application Guidance
      • A public webinar will be held on Thursday, February 16, 2023 that will provide the public with an opportunity to provide feedback. Registration is required. Additional feedback options are available.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued draft application guidance for a hydroelectric incentive program focused on maintaining and enhancing hydroelectric facilities to ensure generators continue to provide clean electricity, while integrating renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, improving dam safety, and reducing environmental impacts. In releasing the draft guidance, DOE is requesting feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including industry, clean-energy advocates, and local governments and communities on eligibility, application requirements, and timing of incentive payments. Leveraging operational flexibility and energy storage capabilities, hydropower supports energy resource adequacy to ensure the availability of clean, reliable generation capacity allowing all Americans access to clean, resilient, and affordable electricity.


  • The Equitable and Affordable Solutions to Electrification (EAS-E) Home Electrification Prize
    • More Information
    • Concept Paper – Phase 1 due: March 8, 2023
    • Pilot Demonstration – Phase 2 opens October 2023 – submissions due: April 2024

Provides up to $2.4 million in prizes for innovative solutions that advance electrification retrofits of residential homes across all building types and geographies.

  • DOE Launches $10 Million Prize to Accelerate Community Solar in Underrepresented Communities

DOE’s National Community Solar Partnership launched the Community Power Accelerator Prize, a $10 million competition that will bring together investors, nonprofits, developers, community-based organizations, and technical experts to work together to finance more equitable community solar projects. The competition will support developers with technical assistance, an online platform, and a Learning Lab to build a pipeline of credit-ready projects that will connect with investors seeking to fund community solar in disadvantaged communities.

The Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools (CLASS) Prize will provide training and cash prizes to school districts working to make energy management a sustainable feature of their communities. The Prize is designed to position Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to make meaningful infrastructure improvements that will reduce utility costs, improve indoor air quality, and improve learning environments long-term. A total of $4.5 million in awards is available, including $3.75 million in cash prizes for selected LEAs to fund energy management professionals-in-training, and an additional $750,000 in technical assistance from Energy CLASS Training Network partners.

The Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations is launching this $15 million to challenge individuals and organizations to develop partnership plans and innovative financing strategies to help rural or remote communities improve their energy systems and make progress on advancing clean energy demonstration projects.



  • Designed to Deliver: Lessons Learned from Architects, Engineers, and Contractors in Zero-Carbon Buildings

Architects, engineers, and contractors (A/E/C) are essential in designing and delivering buildings that offer top value to clients while meeting energy and carbon goals. This discussion will highlight the A/E/C and client barriers to routine design and delivery of zero-carbon buildings, in addition to resources developed by the Better Buildings Design and Construction Allies that address the challenges.

  • Industry-Perspective Webinar on IRA Tax Implications and Market Opportunities

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Federal Performance Contracting Coalition, and the National Association of Energy Service Companies will host a free webinar exploring the Inflation Reduction Act’s tax implications and market opportunities for energy efficiency and sustainable energy projects. The panelists will also discuss tax opportunities and their structures, process and timing, and potential challenges.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Climate Planning

Climate change disproportionately impacts certain communities, that is why diversity, equity, and inclusion are crucial to consider when creating a climate action plan. Learn how Better Buildings partners ensure their actions respond to the needs of those most impacted by climate change and policy.

  • It’s Electric! Electrified Alternatives to Industrial Fossil Fuel Systems

Learn about the benefits and challenges in implementing electrified systems.

A roundtable discussion


  • DOE’s 2023 Small Business Forum & ExpoRegister Now!
    • Don’t miss your chance to gain exclusive access to:
    • Informative keynotes from top administration officials
    • Breakout sessions led by industry leaders and experts in the field
    • One-on-one matchmaking sessions
    • An exhibit hall showcasing the latest products and services for building your business and increasing revenue
    • Countless networking opportunities

Make plans now to join other business owners and government officials to learn how to increase revenue and grow your business. Register by April 30 to take advantage of early-bird savings!

  • 2023 National Energy Codes Conference
    • 2023 National Energy Codes Conference!
    • What: 2023 National Energy Codes Conference
    • When: May 2-4, 2023
    • Where: The Palmer House, Chicago, IL
    • Who: Builders, designers, code officials, policymakers, and code stakeholders of all types!

After three years in a virtual setting, this year’s event will be held in-person in Chicago, Illinois.  With new energy code funding opportunities emerging from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act there will be no shortage of timely discussions, engaging topics, and networking opportunities.


  • The Updated Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar – a resource for farms and agricultural businesses looking to solar power their daily operations and diversify their revenue stream. Updated Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar
  • New National Requirements for Zero Energy Ready Single-Family Homes – DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program in EERE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) has released Version 2 of its national program requirements for single-family homes (ZERH V2), the most significant overhaul of DOE’s energy and environmental performance benchmarks in history. The over 12,000 zero-energy certified homes across the country are so energy efficient—often 40 to 50% more than a typical new home—they consistently offset most or all the energy they consume with renewable power. Video: What is a Zero Energy Ready Home?
  • New Energy Justice Mapping Tool for Schools – This new tool is intended to allow users to explore and produce reports for a specific school facility which include but are not limited to the following metrics: whether the school is located in a Disadvantaged Community (DAC); whether it is in a rural location (coded as 41, 42, 43); whether it is designated as a community shelter; the percentage of students who are eligible to receive free and reduced priced meals; and whether the school qualifies for Title I schoolwide programming.  Energy Justice Mapping Tool for Schools

–Clean Energy Tax Credit Information Resources

As of January 1, 2023, households buying an electric heat pump and other high efficiency equipment can claim a 30% federal tax credit of up to $2,000. In addition to federal tax credits, this guide summarizes other new programs that will make heat pumps even more affordable and accessible to consumers.

As of January 1, 2023, households buying a geothermal heat pump can claim a federal tax credit of up to 30%.

The Inflation Reduction Act expanded the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics through a provision known as the Investment Tax Credit. Learn about the biggest changes and what they mean for Americans who install rooftop solar.

This guide provides an overview of the federal investment tax credit for those interested in residential solar photovoltaics.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alejandro Moreno discusses new efforts to help subsidize construction of Zero Energy Ready Homes.

Read about two solar tax credits available for businesses and other entities, such as nonprofits and local and tribal governments, that purchase solar energy systems.

Search for incentives by geography, technology, eligible sector, program type, and more.

–Federal Tax Credits Under the Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 created and updated several energy-related tax credits and deductions that may affect federal tax returns for individuals and businesses. For details — including tax credits for clean vehicles, energy efficiency, and other provisions — see Credits and Deductions Under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 on the IRS website.

–For Stakeholders Planning on Applying Directly to the U.S. Government for Funding

NOTE: Due to the high demand of UEI requests and SAM registrations, entity legal business name and address validations are taking longer than expected to process. Entities should start the UEI and SAM registration/update process immediately as the processing time to complete a registration/update currently may take weeks to months. This includes address and expired registration updates. If entities have technical difficulties with the UEI validation or SAM registration process they should utilize the HELP feature on will work entity service tickets in the order in which they are received and asks that entities not create multiple service tickets for the same request or technical issue. Additional entity validation resources can be found here: GSAFSD Tier 0 Knowledge Base – Validating your Entity.

The MN Commerce Department is your partner for federal energy-specific funding opportunities

Interested in partnering with the Department of Commerce around funding opportunities? Have questions? Send an email, detailing the program, your organization and contact information to IIJA Initiatives Project Manager, Kellye Rose: up for future email updates from the Department of Commerce.
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More follow up from OBD from Connecting One Minnesota Workshop

Shared from the Office of Broadband Development with permission – lots of ways to get more info…

Thank you for joining us at the Internet for All: Connecting One Minnesota Workshop on January 25. Below are links to the recording of the event and presentations.



Internet for All: Connecting One Minnesota Workshop



Overview of Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities – Baltazar

Overview of Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities – Boening

Overview of Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities – Karst

Overview of Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities – Roark

Overview of Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities – Rutyna

Next Steps: Barriers and Tools to Break Them Down – Buckland

Next Steps: Barriers and Tools to Break Them Down – Karst

Next Steps: Barriers and Tools to Break Them Down – Wells


For more information about the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development and their programs, please visit their webpage or you can reach out to:

You can reach out to the Minnesota broadband team at:

And for information about NTIA’s broadband programs, please visit Internet for All or you can email or for specific questions about these programs. We also encourage you to visit NTIA’s State, Local, and Tribal Nations pages for additional information and resources. If you have any questions for NTIA, please reach out to Tom Karst, Federal Program Officer for Minnesota (

Need help creating your digital equity plan? Here’s an option

This isn’t the only handbook and I don’t know that it’s the best but we can all use more help with the funding opportunities that are coming to the communities…

This Handbook offers key principles and best practices that state and local governments should follow in structuring their digital equity plans and establishing and supporting digital equity programs. States, territories, and Tribes are currently developing digital equity plans to meet the funding requirements of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). 1 County, municipal, and local governments also are developing more localized digital equity plans, recognizing the importance of home broadband connectivity and online services to social, civic, and economic participation, and leveraging funding provided under available federal and state programs.

This Handbook focuses on the importance of building “digital equity” into broadband availability and adoption programs. Digital equity requires acknowledging that different individuals and groups of individuals will require different skills, resources, and opportunities to successfully participate in an increasingly digital world, and empowering them to do so.

Broadband availability and adoption programs should be equitable by design, meaning programs should seek to address underlying social and economic inequalities and should focus, as appropriate, on groups, areas, and characteristics of greatest need: low-income groups; rural areas; communities with low rates of literacy and digital skills; aging individuals; persons with disabilities; and minority groups with low adoption rates.

Minnesota needs $276M state funding and federal funds to meet broadband goals

MinnPost reports

Renewed interest in public funding to subsidize construction of high-speed internet infrastructure in rural areas since the COVID-19 pandemic began has resulted in gobs of broadband money in Minnesota — at least compared to what used to be spent on the issue.

But the oodles of cash, mostly approved by the federal government over the last few years, is still not enough for Minnesota to meet its latest broadband goals, according to state officials. So Gov. Tim Walz’s administration has proposed spending another $276 million in the two-year budget.

The money would propel the state toward its goal of having universal access to high-speed internet by 2026, which might cost $426 million in the next four years, according to one estimate by the state’s broadband task force.

The $276 million would be a huge amount of state money for internet infrastructure, if it’s approved by lawmakers. But the total is a proverbial drop in the bucket of Minnesota’s $17.6 billion budget surplus, underscoring just how much cash lawmakers have at their disposal.

More details…

There are also a slew of federal broadband programs that will help Minnesota cover the remaining $1.38 billion. The broadband task force estimated the state is in line for $968 million from the federal government, most of which is from the infrastructure bill that passed Congress in 2021.

What’s left for Minnesota, according to the task force report, is roughly $426 million, a price tag that factors in administrative costs and is based on a 50% match. (Minnesota almost had an additional $311 million grant from the feds to cover much of it, but the FCC stripped the award from embattled LTD Broadband last year over concerns the company couldn’t deliver.)


Federal Hearing on Broadband sound like MN hearings – with only one side speaking

Doug Dawson (POTs and PANs) is taking a look at federal hearings on Broadband Grants. It looks like the large national providers may be having their day to be heard…

But that doesn’t seem to be the intent of these hearings. The hearings want to look at two issues. The first is to make sure that the grants are only used for connecting to unserved locations and not used for ‘overbuilding’. This has been a major talking point for the big cable companies for years – they don’t want to see any grant money used to encroach on areas they think of as their service territories. The whole idea of not using grants for overbuilding is ludicrous – there are not many homes in the country where at least one ISP can’t provide service – so every new broadband network that is constructed is overbuilding somebody.

The second issue…

The issue that has the big cable companies up in arms is that the IIJA grant legislation says that once a state has satisfied bringing broadband to unserved and underserved locations, grant funding can be used to improve broadband in inner cities and places that the big ISPs have ignored. There will not likely be a lot of BEAD grant money that goes to this purpose, but there will be some.

The third issue…

The other stated purpose of the hearings is to make sure that the grants don’t have waste, fraud, or abuse. It’s going to be really interesting to see where this leads in hearings. The only big historical cases of grant waste and abuse I know of are the way the big telcos often took CAF II funding and made no upgrades. I don’t picture these hearings dredging up past abuses by the big ISPs, so I’m having a hard time imagining where else this line of inquiry might go.


These hearings only make sense as a way to appease the large ISPs which contribute heavily to politicians. It’s hard to imagine that these hearings will change anything. Congress can change the BEAD grant rules any time this year, but that will take bipartisan cooperation – something that seems to have disappeared from Washington DC. But the hearings will only allow for the airing of the big ISP grievances, and I guess that is something.

This makes me nervous because I have been tracking broadband conversations at the Minnesota State Capitol and have been seeing a lack of consumer protection or community representation. The providers get a chance to speak. And the impact of provider perspective seem to permeate the questions that legislators are asking. The last meeting at the MN Senate there was concern about staffing issues and potential supply shortages as well as the Office of Broadband Development getting into digital equity.

MN House bonding committee hears of billions in federal funds available for MN capital projects – including broadband

I’ve said before, I just can’t hear enough about the federal funding coming for broadband. It’s confusing and the numbers are huge. (Huge but not sufficient to get border to border broadband.) If you feel the same, this is another concise view of the funds coming it. This look was different for me because it wasn’t just broadband-focused. Interesting to compare to other capital projects. (You can keep track on the MN Management and Budget IIJA website.)

And here’s the recap from the MN House…

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

The federal government has promised about $1 trillion to the states through the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Minnesota is expected to receive more than $7.4 billion in formula funds over the next five years, but a majority require a state match.

State agencies have been coordinating with each other and local agencies to maximize the impact of the federal dollars, said Liz Connor, MMB’s strategic initiatives manager. She highlighted the state’s IIJA website, with information for local governments and others on technical assistance and resources, as well as a grant opportunity tracking form.

Minnesota has been awarded nearly $5.9 billion to date, but that doesn’t mean there is authority to spend it, Connor said, though MMB has a handle on what the state will be pursuing. Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed budget — scheduled for release Jan. 24 — is expected to include proposals for matching funds.

Questions the committee must answer, said Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), include how much money is available, how much the match is, and how much the state needs to unlock federal funds.

American Rescue Plan

Minnesota was also awarded $180.7 million through the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. To access the fund, capital projects must:

  • directly enable work, education and health monitoring;

  • address needs arising from, exacerbated by or identified following the COVID-19 pandemic; and

  • address a critical need of the community served.

To date, $130.7 million to expand access to broadband in Minnesota has been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. This includes $15 million for a new program to help homes and businesses defray the construction costs of bringing broadband services from the road to the door.

The state is awaiting a federal response — possibly by fall 2023 — on another proposed $50 million for multi-purpose community facility projects that’d be administered by the Department of Education. Examples of eligible projects include improving internet access at libraries or creating employment centers at community health care sites.

Adosh Unni, the department’s director of government relations, said the expected 2- to 2 ½-year turnaround to spend funds once they’re allocated is manageable.

We all do better when we are all better connected – study shows how

Common Sense has released analysis of how universal connectivity benefits education, health care, government services, and employment. They look at three things:

  • How Institutions Use Connectivity
  • The Infrastructure Required to Innovate Essential Services
  • How Federal Funds Can Close the Digital Divide and Ensure Equitable Access to Essential Services.

The whole report is interesting but for most readers I think the last section will be of particular interest. They give step-by-step recommendations on how states can maximize impact by:

  • Building State Capacity
  • Mapping the Divide
  • Planning with Institutions
  • Promoting the ACP
  • Creating Sustainable Funding and Policies

FCC to collect data on ACP recipients, subscriptions and offerings

The FCC reports

The Federal Communications Commission has adopted an order creating the Affordable Connectivity Program Transparency Data Collection, a statutorily mandated annual data collection describing all internet service plans subscribed to by households enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).  Congress, through the Infrastructure Jobs and Investment Act, required the Commission to collect this data for all service plans subscribed to by an ACP-enrolled household.  Providers must also submit plan characteristics including speed, latency, and bundle characteristics, and a unique identifier associated with a broadband label if applicable, as well as certain aggregated plan enrollment subscriber data.

“To find out whether this program is working as Congress intended, we need to know who is participating, and how they are using the benefit,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel.  “So we’re doing just that.  The data we collect will help us know where we are, and where we need to go.  We’re also standardizing the way we collect data, and looking for other ways to paint a fuller picture of how many eligible households are participating in the ACP.  We want all eligible households to know about this important benefit for affordable internet service.”

The Order would require ACP providers to submit annually data on price, plan coverage, and plan characteristics of their broadband internet services subscribed to by ACP-enrolled households.  A Further Notice seeks comment on subscriber enrollment data, digital divide metrics, metrics related to low-income plan and connected device offerings, and on the merits and burdens associated with the collection of subscriber level information.  The Further Notice also seeks comment on whether the Commission should collect information related to the digital divide, including whether an ACP subscriber is a first-time or existing broadband subscriber or is subscribed to multiple plans.  In addition, the Further Notice seeks comment on the collecting information related to providers’ low-income broadband plan and connected device offerings.

It would be nice if there was a way to invite the household to also take a speed test. Then we’d know what they are paying for and what they are getting. It seems like with the public money being invested that both parties (provider and subscriber) could be enticed to provide as much info as requested, certainly in terms of the service.

Update and/or another look at Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)

I feel like I just can’t read about IIJA and all the federal broadband funding enough. Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has a nice update on the Digital Equity Act, which in a piece of IIJA. Here are the highlights; you can check out the site for greater detail…

The Digital Equity Act provides $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The programs focus on increasing broadband adoption and ensuring that all people and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The three programs are:

  • State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program: A $60 million formula grant program for states, territories and Tribal governments to develop digital equity plans.
  • State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program: A $1.44 billion formula grant program for states, territories, and Tribal governments. It will fund an annual grant program for five years in support of digital equity projects and the implementation of digital equity plans.
  • Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program: A $1.25 billion grant program. It will fund annual grant programs for five years to implement digital equity projects.

Over the past year, the NTIA has focused on the planning grant program, encouraging states, territories and Tribal governments to develop digital equity plans in tandem with universal broadband access plans required for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.

OPPORTUNITY: Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program now open

If you are working to spread the word on Affordable Connectivity Program funding (ACP) in your community, this funding might be for you

The Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program (ACP Outreach Grant Program) is comprised of four complementary grant programs:

  • National Competitive Outreach Program (NCOP)
  • Tribal Competitive Outreach Program (TCOP)
  • Your Home, Your Internet (YHYI) Outreach Grants
  • Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Navigator Pilot Program (NPP) Outreach Grants

The FCC issues this NOFO to describe the requirements under which it will award grants for the NCOP and the TCOP. A separate NOFO will be issued for the ACP Outreach Grant Program – Pilot Programs, YHYI and NPP. The ACP Outreach Grant Program is one tool among a comprehensive set of measures authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021(Infrastructure Act) and implemented by the FCC to help bridge the digital divide. The ACP Outreach Grant Program will help increase awareness of and participation in the ACP among eligible households. The ACP Outreach Grant Program provides new federal funding for the FCC to grant eligible governmental and non-governmental entities with the funding and resources needed to increase awareness of and participation in the ACP among those households most in need of affordable connectivity. See Section IV – Program Description of this NOFO for the full Program Description.